Day 8: Psalm 51
I love the fact that many of David’s Psalms were written in the midst of real life situations that we can read about elsewhere in our bibles.
In the title of this Psalm we are told that David wrote it at the time that Nathan the prophet confronted him after his sin with Bathsheba. So if we want to get a good understanding of the Psalm we need to know something of the story that unfolds in 2 Samuel 11 and 12.
In brief, David had spotted a beautiful married woman called Bathsheba from his roof top terrace. He sent messengers to bring her to him, got her pregnant, arranged for her husband’s death and then married her. There’s some pretty x-rated stuff in there!
Most of us would probably have written David off at this stage as beyond redemption. Surely he has gone just too far!
God however isn’t finished with David and he sends the prophet Nathan to confront David with his sin – this is the background to David’s cry in verse 1.
1 Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
So as we can see this Psalm is written as a cry from the heart by someone who knows what he has done wrong.
Firstly, notice here how David describes God – we might think that David would focus on God’s anger, His righteousness or His holiness but in fact he focuses on God’s unfailing love and great compassion. Knowing that God is loving and compassionate enables him to call out to God for mercy and he asks him to wash away his iniquity and cleanse him from sin.
What a brilliant picture this is of what Christ has done for us. Not only has he forgiven us for the things we have done wrong but he has also washed us and made us clean. He hasn’t just done a cover up job – he has made us clean inside and out!
Secondly, David doesn’t just want to be forgiven (as if that’s not amazing enough), he wants a pure heart. He is not just looking back at what he has done wrong but looking forward with a desire to live a life that pleases God. In verse 10 he says
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Again this is brilliant because that is just what Christ has done for us as new covenant believers – he made us a new creation (2 Corinthians 5.17) He washed us clean, made us holy and put us right with Him (1 Corinthiams 6.11) Not only that but He gave us the Holy Spirit to help us to live out the new life with the clean heart that he has given us. He has done all that for us – all we need to do is live out the life that he has given us.
As we meditate on these truths our souls can truly “awake” again and be refreshed in the knowledge of all that Christ has done for us.
Campus Pastor, Workington